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Neil Armstrong was first man to walk on the moon 49 years ago today

The Apollo 11 lunar landing mission crew, pictured from left to right, Neil A. Armstrong, commander; Michael Collins, command module pilot; and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot. (NASA/Public Domain)
July 20, 2018

At 10:56 p.m. on July 20, 1969, Commander Neil Armstrong, Command Module Pilot Michael Collins and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr. landed on the moon.

Neil Armstrong announced, “The Eagle has landed.”

As Armstrong placed one foot on the dusty floor of the moon, he said: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”

Neil Armstrong imprinted the very first human footsteps on the moon and was the first man to walk on the moon 49 years ago today.

In 1961, President John F. Kennedy told Congress: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish.”

Eight years later, it became a reality, but before it did, the first manned Apollo mission, Apollo 1, ended in tragedy in 1967.

All three crew members died in a fire inside their capsule during a pre-launch test on the launch pad.

NASA then made some design changes and said that the Apollo spacecraft was safer for journeys to the moon.

Apollo 8 and Apollo 10 were the first two crewed missions to the moon’s orbit and were 50,000 feet above the lunar surface.

By July 1969, NASA astronauts had flown to the moon’s orbit twice, and the crew of Apollo 11 was ready to land on the lunar surface – they did just that.

On the morning of July 16, 1969, the 363-foot-tall Saturn V rocket launched from Complex 39 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The trip took more than four days.

Once the crew landed, Armstrong described the moon’s surface as “fine and powdery.”

“I can pick it up loosely with my toe. It’s like powdered charcoal to the sole and sides of my boots,” Armstrong said.

“American leadership is inspiring the world by consistently doing what no other nation is capable of doing,” Aldrin told Congress in 2015. “We demonstrated that for a brief time 45 years ago. I do not believe we have done it since.”